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July 27, 2017 - By: - In: Press Releases - Tags: - Comments Off on  POLL:  7 IN 10 NORTH CAROLINIANS CONCERNED ABOUT OFFSHORE DRILLING IN COASTAL WATERS

Natural Resources Defense Council
Press Release

Worries Include Threats of Oil Spill, Lost Jobs, Lower Home Prices, Harm to Wildlife;  Young Adults, Women, African Americans Among Most Concerned.

RALEIGH, NC (July 27, 2017) — The threat of an oil spill from offshore oil drilling in North Carolina coastal waters is a concern for 72 percent of state residents – with 56 percent “very concerned” – according to a new poll by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The poll comes at a time when the Trump administration is moving forward with plans to open the Atlantic Ocean and other U.S. coastal waters to offshore drilling.

The scientific survey of 928 North Carolina residents, available online at, was conducted by PPP July 21-23, 2017.  Fielding of the survey began one day after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s July 20th announcement declaring his public opposition to offshore drilling expansion along the Atlantic coast.

Key survey findings include:

•    Seven out of 10 North Carolinians are “very concerned” (51 percent) or “somewhat concerned” (19 percent) about the federal government’s plan to begin offshore drilling off the coast of North Carolina.

•    77 percent of state residents say the tourism-related economic downturn from an oil spill on North Carolina beaches would be harmful, including 58 percent who say it would be “very harmful.”  Nearly one in five North Carolinians (19 percent) say their job or place of business depends on the ocean/beach tourism economy. They are considerably more likely (51 percent versus 36 percent) than those feeling no such connection to the ocean/beach tourism economy to be “very concerned” about the danger offshore drilling poses to jobs and housing prices.

•    The percentage of North Carolina residents ranking various offshore drilling-related risks as “very serious concerns” or “somewhat serious concerns” is as follows:  contaminated drinking water supplies (74 percent); release of chemicals dangerous to human health (74 percent); harm to wildlife and wildlife habitats (72 percent); oil spills (70 percent); potential lost jobs and reduced home values (69 percent); and diverting investment away from clean energy (67 percent).

•    64 percent of North Carolina residents are concerned that an oil spill in North Carolina coastal waters would threaten either their job (or that of a loved one) or reduce the value of their home.

•    More than twice as many North Carolina residents – 64 percent versus 28 percent – support investment in more renewable energy (such as wind and solar) and energy efficiency over allowing offshore drilling “in public waters off the North Carolina coast and elsewhere on the Atlantic Ocean coast” – in order to address “America’s energy future.”   For the energy future of North Carolina, the margin was 66 percent v. 27 percent.  In the case of North Carolina’s energy future, a majority of support was not found for offshore drilling among any partisan segment, ranging from 13 percent among strong Democrats, 36 percent of Independents, and 49 percent of strong Republicans.

The following is a statement from Franz Matzner, deputy director of federal campaigns, NRDC:

“This sends a strong message to Washington.  The people of North Carolina overwhelmingly oppose offshore drilling.  They’re worried about losing jobs, tourism income, and losing value in their homes.  They’re also concerned about the environment.  For every resident who’s willing to make the bad gamble with offshore drilling, there are two more residents who prefer investing in clean energy and energy efficiency.”

The following is a statement from Jim Williams, Research Director for PPP:

“The voice of North Carolina residents comes through loud and clear in these findings and with a remarkable degree of unanimity.  Anyone who is going to consider getting behind offshore drilling in the waters off this state needs to take heed of these findings in order to understand just how far out of step they are with the public.”

Additional survey findings of note include:

•    More than one out of five North Carolina respondents (21 percent) said they work in or near the coastal area of North Carolina. These individuals are considerably more likely than those living elsewhere in the state (48 versus 36 percent) to be “very concerned” about the danger offshore drilling poses to jobs and housing prices.

•    Women are particularly concerned with the potential impacts of offshore drilling, including the danger posed the state’s tourism economy, where 64 percent of women are “very concerned” compared to 52 percent of men in the same category.

•    Younger North Carolina residents (18 to 29 years old) are consistently among the most concerned about offshore oil drilling and its potential impacts.  While 64 percent of state residents have “very serious concerns” that offshore drilling could result in the release of hazardous chemicals, more than three out of four younger people (77 percent) do.  While 49 percent of all state residents have the highest level of concern about lost jobs and reduced home values due to offshore drilling, 61 percent of the youngest respondents feel the same way.

•    The poorest North Carolina residents are most likely to be concerned about the danger posted to jobs and housing prices, with 50 percent of those earning less than $20,000 “very concerned” compared to 32 percent of those earning $75,000-$100,000.

•    African Americans are also particularly concerned about the impacts of climate change (62 percent “very concerned”).  However, a total of 67 percent of whites are very or somewhat concerned about climate change.  Overall, 68 percent of North Carolina residents are very or somewhat concerned.  In general, African Americans in North Carolina are more skeptical about offshore drilling and its consequences than are other groups.

The margin of error for the full sample size in the PPP survey is plus or minus 3.2 percent.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Alex Frank, 703-276-3264 or

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.